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In this series of exercises, you'll learn how to build an application called Octopus, and we will teach you to implement features that make this app capable of performing large-scale compute workloads. We'll do this through the lens of a tough and interesting geophysical problem—avalanche terrain analysis—that is well suited to optimization with GPU compute. And we'll do this without writing a single line of C++ code.

Figure 1.1. Sample Terrain Analysis.

A sample terrain report.

This series teaches you how to build the software that creates reports like this. ( View Sample Report )

It's important to know that this series teaches a fairly wide set of techniques that are useful for working with Scenome applications. This includes information on creating new applications, how to design abstractions, how to create scripts, write commands, and how to install commands in the user interface. Some of this won't necessarily seem related to GPU compute, but in the end, it's extremely convenient when you can quickly build a nice wrapper around a hard problem without ignoring important, quality of life features either.

Throughout these exercises, you'll notice that we refer to CPU and GPU compute. Most GPU compute applications are a hybrid of CPU and GPU compute, with variations in the thickness of the CPU compute layer. In this case, we are going to use a fair amount of CPU compute code because this system benefits greatly from being able to use CPU code, and some elements aren't really feasible on a GPU. For example, we start out with GEOTIFF source data, and we use CPU compute to assemble large array textures that can be fed to the GPU once, processed with compute shaders, and then read back from the GPU. It's much easier, and much more practical, to use CPU compute code for a wide variety of tasks, especially when you can use CPU compute code to improve the results of GPU compute.

Before we continue, let's review the hardware and software requirements for this series. Except for compute shader support, these requirements aren't absolute, but using less capable hardware can make the CPU and GPU compute operations take longer.

Table 1.1. Hardware and Software Requirements.

Requirement Description
Text Editor While you can complete these exercises using Notepad, it will be difficult to do so. We recommend a text editor with support for undo/redo, and multiple documents, such as Notepad++, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code, or Sublime Text. All the recommended editors have great syntax highlighting for Scenome Scripting Language if you use C++ highlighting on .SSL files.
CPU Memory At least 16GB of CPU memory. Octopus memory use peaks at around 10GB when processing an entire GEOTIFF.
GPU Memory At least 4GB of GPU memory. GPU memory use peaks at around 1GB per shader when processing an entire GEOTIFF.
Hard Disk At least 16GB of hard disk, depending on how much data you acquire and submit as compute workloads.
Compute Shaders Your OpenGL hardware and driver must support compute shaders.

Please proceed to the next exercise.